By Richard Zagrzecki
As the University of Houston continues migrating toward a keyless access system for all campus buildings, what will that mean for faculty, staff and students?
For those who never have to get into a building on the weekends, holidays or after hours, the answer is simple: Nothing.
It’s only when access is needed during these off times that the process is changing. Instead of a key to get inside a building, a Cougar Card will be needed to slide through a card reader to unlock the door.
Over the next couple of years, every campus building will be retrofitted with two card readers and all doors will be wired so they can be controlled from a central location by the UH Department of Public Safety. This is being done in phases. The first phase is slated to be finished by the end of September and will include R. Cullen, Heyne, McElhinney and Farish.
In the meantime, other buildings that currently have no exterior door card readers will have one installed. When that happens, it will allow for the remaining exterior doors to be locked the conventional way after hours. The UH community will then need to use the door with the card reader to get inside the building. These buildings will eventually receive a second reader and have all their remaining exterior doors modified so they can be controlled by UHDPS.
As a building is converted to card readers, the exterior doors will be rekeyed and new keys will be issued only to those who have an emergency need to enter the building in the event of a system failure.
Assistant Vice Chancellor / Assistant Vice President for Public Safety and Security Malcolm Davis said these changes are minimal and will increase the level of safety and security on campus.
“The only real change that is being made is that when you come here after hours, instead of using a key to get into the building, you are using your card,” he said. “That is really the only difference anyone will see.”
For classroom buildings, after hours during the week are generally considered to be 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., so it won’t affect students coming to classes in the evenings. The M.D. Anderson Library already requires students to swipe their cards to get in after hours.
If someone needs to get into a building after hours and their Cougar Card is not giving them access, they should call UHPD dispatch at 713-743-3333. Just like it was prior to the move toward a keyless entry system, the UH community should not open the door to let someone inside a building after hours. Instead, they should tell the person to use their Cougar Card. If they do not have their card with them, they should be told to call dispatch, even if it is a co-worker or someone else who is familiar to the individual.
As buildings are switched over to the card readers, building coordinators are being notified and an accurate list of who should have after-hours card access is compiled.
Members of the UH community who have Cougar Cards issued prior to January 2010 will need to have a new card issued to them. To do this, sign in to AccessUH, and then click on the Cougar Card icon. Go to the My Card tab and click on the re-carding option. Those who have misplaced or lost their card can follow the same procedure to get a new one.
“There are a lot of positives to switching over to this keyless system,” Davis said. “The only negative is that some people may think the new system is inconvenient, when in reality it is not. Whatever access you have now, you still will have with the new system.”